Google Aims to Power East Coast

Every year, somebody at our office circulates an email message updating us on what it’s like to work at Google. This message always generates a lot of “oohs” and “ahhs” at the water cooler. The privileged few who inhabit Google’s high command in Mountain View, CA are living the corporate good life. In between tweaking the algorithm that governs 80 percent of web searches, these working stiffs can be seen:

Serenely swimming in an Olympic-sized pool;

Reclining in ergonomically designed “stress” capsules;

Moving from floor to floor on a sliding pond;

Shooting pool in the billiard room;

Getting a professional massage;

Having a personal chef prepare a five-star meal for lunch.

Frankly, we’re fed up with the annual “what it’s like to work at Google” message. We’d like to forward it to the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

Strike that last thought. Google just announced it has plans for the Atlantic Ocean. The search behemoth is going to spend $5 billion to power a huge stretch of the East Coast of the United States with wind from the Atlantic. Google intends to leapfrog to the head of the alternative energy pack.

The project would set up offshore wind turbines and a new transmission grid stretching 350 miles from New Jersey to Virginia. Google, which also is dabbling in robotic cars (they drive themselves), said it would provide 37.5 percent of the initial funding for the East Coast wind bonanza.

Rick Needham, director of green business operations and strategy at Google, described the project as a new “superhighway” for alternative energy, creating jobs and eventually providing enough power to serve 1.9 million households. “We’re willing to take calculated risks on large-scale projects that can move an industry. Indeed, that is what’s made our company so successful to date,” Needham told a news conference in Washington.

Google and its partners hope to begin work on the project, called the Atlantic Wind Connection, in early 2013 and complete it by 2020, subject to government approval. Needham said Google was open to further investment later.

We can imagine how this project got started. Google founders Sergey and Larry were taking a stress break after a five-star meal at the Mountain View HQ. While they were lying on the massage table, Sergey suddenly blurted out:

“Gigabits. Gigabits. That’s all we ever talk about. I’m sick of gigabits!”

To which Larry responded: “OK. How about gigawatts?”

We’ve got an uneasy feeling about this initiative. Creating a power transmission grid for the most densely populated chunk of the U.S.A. is not a simple algorithm. We’re talking about electricity here. Have these guys ever plugged in a server?

Besides, Google’s core business still needs a little tweaking. How do we know? We googled “East Coast” while researching this post.

Topping the results list was “Don’t Miss Octoberfest at East Coast Toyota! Lowest Prices on 2011 Camrys in New Jersey!”